Joe Biden is currently leading Donald Trump in the polls by 8 percentage points among seniors 65 and older, a big change from the 2016 election in which Trump won the senior vote by 52 percent.
With 10,000 people turning 65 each day, seniors are an important and growing segment of the population. Seniors are a large and diverse group that is active, educated, creative, and involved in the heart of this country.
Why the turn?
Why are many seniors turning on Trump? There are several factors involved. The main issue at hand is the need for seniors to be seen as valued, contributing citizens, and not as expendable.
In a recent Politico magazine interview, Zack Stanton interviewed Nora Super, senior director of the Milken Institute’s Center for the Future of Aging on how seniors are feeling this election cycle.
With life expectancy longer than it was in the past, older people are not your typical “old” person anymore. Seniors are working, active members of society that deserve for their voices to be heard.
Super said: “Covid set us back, unfortunately, on some of the negative stereotypes about aging: That people over 65 are frail and should stay at home and not go out. Now, some of that risk is real; some of it’s a little perceived. But we’ve seen the pervasive ageism in our society, and that has energized older people to say, ‘Hey, I’m not dead yet.’”
Older Americans are more at risk for complications of COVID-19, so the current handling of the virus has not sat well with many of them. They are also the most likely to have lost loved ones to coronavirus, adding to their sense of grief and loss.
Social Security and Medicare
Seniors are also more vulnerable in that many rely on Social Security for their income. Many seniors have lost jobs due to the pandemic. And even with Medicare, drug costs and other medical costs can be very high.
Super said: “There are many well-documented studies that look at a 100-year life, and really starting to have people think about life and your lifespan differently, thinking that you’ll live until you’re 100. We’ve been trying to think about new ways to keep people engaged and to see their life as long. That makes you think about your investments differently, it makes you think about what you do for a living, how you treat your body — all sorts of things.”
She spoke of getting rid of the media stereotypes of frail older people and embracing the reality of seniors in America. She asserts that we must address ageism as well as racism and sexism.
While there are many factors at hand, including the need to take a look at how well Medicare and Social Security are serving older Americans, the central factor is that seniors want their needs to be seen, acknowledged, and addressed.
What do you think? Follow Medicare World on Facebook and join the conversation.